To say that our four day old does not like having his diaper changed is the understatement of the century. It seems that by the time the clothes are opened, he is becoming increasingly agitated, and by the time you're half way through changing, he's really at full tilt. It sounds like genuine distress, not just fussing, it's incredibly hard to deal with a nasty diaper when your infant is screaming himself hoarse! I know there's a certain degree of "the faster you get, the less time they're distressed for", but there must be some top tips for mitigating total meltdown!?
One of the main reasons a newborn (particularly such a new newborn!) dislikes diaper changes is the fact that they're cold. Really cold. Normally they have this nice warm layer on them that keeps them warm and cozy, and you're ripping that off of them with nary a care for their ... well, I'm sure that's what the newborn thinks, anyway.
To avoid this, you can use a few strategies to help:
- Clothes that are easier to change a diaper in without completely removing. Often with one pieces you only have to open the bottom part (if it's one of those that snaps up the middle of the legs). This means the torso stays warm.
- Towel or blanket over the newborn's torso. Legs can't really be helped, but the torso can be kept relatively warm even if the clothes are shucked.
- Place the diaper table in an area that is warmer, or under a warm lamp or something that will help keep things toasty. Not under a fan (unless it's a fan that is helping with warmer air!). Don't place a heater right there - that's a fire danger and singing/overheating baby danger - but see what you can do.
There are other reasons, but from my experience they tended to be less. Giving some transition time is one helpful thing to try; some of why they're mad may be that you removed them from a happy bed or mommy's arms or whatnot, and placed them on a diaper pad that they don't really care much for. Carry them around a bit if they were in bed or playing (once they can play), and then once you get on the diaper table, play some with them on the table. Distract them. We put a mobile over our diaper table (a regular crib mobile, just over the diaper table). Have Mommy hold something shiny while Daddy does the change, or vice-versa (whomever is faster and better at not leaking!). Put a (plastic) mirror on the side of the table where baby's head is; this won't help at 4 days but will later on.
Ultimately, getting used to it, both yourself and for your baby, helps the most. Baby will learn to be okay with it for a year or so, and appreciate the extra attention (after they're mobile, then it's another struggle, sorry!). You'll get faster at it and more used to what helps distract your baby.
*This all assumes you've done what you could to make the diaper table itself comfortable. It should have a hard-pillow-like top, either as part of the table or (preferably) a separate diaper changing pad, that's pretty comfy (and has its own removable and washable cover). There shouldn't be a bright light (or sun) where it could get in their eyes. Safety strap is a must.
One tip we got at the hospital when our first baby was born : when you hold the baby's feet up with one hand (while using the other hand to wipe or manipulate the diaper), make sure you do not clench his/her ankles together as this can be painful (for the baby). So hold one little foot between thumb and index finger, and the other between index finger and middle finger. That way your index finger will act as a "buffer".
In my sons' case, they both had severe reflux that was triggered by them lying on their backs. So diaper changing was painful for both of them.
We tried a few things to mitigate this.
- Change the diaper on your lap instead of on a changing table. That way the baby's head can be elevated, which reduces the reflux.
- Keep them on the changing table, but on their belly. It's actually easier to clean #2 this way (you don't need to lift the legs). Make sure baby can breathe of course.
Though, odds are this isn't your kid's problem. Most advice I've heard involves distracting the kid while you change them (play or sing a silly song, have one parent do something unusual like trying to juggle). The object is to make a diaper change a fun routine rather than something traumatic.
We had the same problem. Then the nurse suggested to feed the baby before changing him. So my wife would feed him from one side, letting the baby soothe, then we would change him (without crying this time), finally feed on the other side.
Make sure you make the baby burp before changing, or the "handling" may cause reflux.
My son was born in winter, so we also thought it was for the cold. Turns out that wasn't the case!
We used water and bounty paper towels (I think they may have changed them, but at that time they used to be very soft) as diaper wipes. I would get the tap water as hot as it would go to wet the towels (when traveling, we just used a spritz bottle with water at ambient temperature). I put the wet paper towels under my shirt, directly on the skin on my collar bone, so they would stay warm until the moment they were about to be used.
Apparently Germans have heating lamps that attach to their changing tables. That, and other warming suggestions here:
White noise. I have just discovered that putting the hair dryer on cool and putting it near the changing mat is properly transformative. You have to turn it on before you start, but it seems to all but guarantee a tear free (for everyone) diaper change. We tried a white noise app but it doesn't cut it, the hair dryer is like magic!
In addition to being cold, which is a very good answer, I would add that you should make it a fun time :).
Have a mobile above the changing table.
Blow kisses on the baby's tummy. Kiss his toes.
Smile and talk to him.
When a little older: Be silly. My husband always makes funny faces and puts the diaper on the baby's head, or his head.
Rash baby might have a rash somewhere on his or her body. I just figured this out for myself:
My son was crying terribly so I inspected his hiney and I saw nothing at all, until I looked a little deeper and it was not a full grown rash, but it was growing in and it was just red below his testicles, really small. I put some a and d ointment in, closed the diaper and he's good as new.
Sometimes rashes can't be seen, it's just a red area. So if you experience a crying baby at diaper change just put some ointment down there everywhere just to be safe, because it's very painful for babies and they can not talk to tell us what's wrong.